Innovation Laboratory – Building local innovation ecosystem around Rustavi’s Business Incubator
Rustavi is a city situated 25 km southeast of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. It has a population of 125 103 inhabitants, more than 26 000 of them are 18-29 years old. About 30 000 inhabitants are commuting on a daily basis to Tbilisi. Despite the lack of employment opportunities, it is the only city in Georgia which population is growing. This can be partially explained by lower costs for living (housing, services) in comparison to Tbilisi.
Since 2018 Rustavi‘s Innovation Hub has been running a series of projects which increase youth participation and engagement such as providing support for start-ups or encouraging to use crowdfunding for implementation of community projects. Rustavi’s Business Incubator, a space for local start-up community which will include co-working and acceleration activities, will open in September 2021. It was created by the Rustavi Innovation Hub and City Council with the financial support of UNDP. Business incubation as a process supports the development and scale-up of early-stage enterprises as it provides an enabling environment to them in the starting phase.
The current Challenge Fund project seeks to use the existing Experts.ai platform and uses the space of the Business Incubator to provide development opportunities for young people in Rustavi. It plans to establish partnerships between local students, businesses and stakeholders by transferring a model of existing Innovation Laboratory from the Faculty of Information Technology at the CTU in Prague to Rustavi.